What month is it again?
We know that everyone in education is exhausted.
We get it. We are, too.

With a pandemic still raging and educators (and students) doing their best to navigate these times, there’s no wonder we feel the world pressing in around us. Most of us came to this work because we love working with children. We love waking up each morning knowing that during the day, we get to learn alongside students. They teach us so much.

However, many educators do not feel that joy this school year. There has been a general lack of support for educators for quite some time, but this year, it’s even more challenging. Excellent educators are leaving the profession, but these people are our own. They have helped make this profession what it is. We have asked many times: What can we do?

In thinking about the “What can we do?” question, we considered several ways that administrators can support teachers and themselves as professionals. While there are plenty of social and emotional supports, especially ones that we’ve offered in previous articles, we decided to keep these specific to our professional work in schools and with students. We hope you find them meaningful.

  1. We encourage principals to take a break from analyzing and evaluating classroom teachers.

The year is already tough enough without the anxiety associated with evaluations. Use that time to build relationships with students and teachers. Instead of observing, considering joining. Take part in the class or just sit back and enjoy the lesson. Use that data to create your observational notes. Focusing on assets, not deficits, will build stronger schoolwide relationships. We understand there are state mandated responsibilities for evaluating, so we’re not saying to throw those in the trash, but what we’re saying is don’t be so focused on evaluating that you forget to JOIN IN the learning and teaching too. Ask to team teach, model a lesson, or just take a small group. Rediscover your joy you found in teaching, gain more respect from your teachers, and also give them a little break!

  1. Protect teachers’ planning/professional development time.

If possible, avoid unnecessary meetings. Give teachers this time to check in with other educators. Administrators can use this time for check ins, too, and as another way to gather data for observations in an asset-based way. What are teachers curious about in their teaching lives? What professional development would build on the expertise and skill they already have? As an instructional leader in the school, administrators can help teachers find resources to build their teaching lives.

  1. Connect outside the school building/hours.

We are so much more than our careers. But oftentimes the meetings and gatherings we attend as educators is solely focused on data and instruction that we forget to meet and learn about the adults behind those tasks. We encourage you to find a way to invite your team off campus for some “non-education” fun. Maybe a trip to the bowling alley, cooking hotdogs at the park, going to see a movie, laser tag, or heck even goat yoga! When we connect personally we build stronger connections and relationships.

No one could have anticipated the challenges facing everyone in education this year. We came into this school year with such anticipation and hope after surviving the last few years. But this is a career you were called into. One that we know you (and your team) loves. These are just a few ideas we came up with to help remind those around you that you’re in this together and together you can continue to impact the lives of children and adults on your campus every day! You’ve got this!

Todd Nesloney is TEPSA’s Director of Culture and Strategic Leadership. He is an award-winning educator, author and international speaker.

Travis Crowder, a National Board Certified Teacher, teaches middle school students in North Carolina. He co-hosts the popular podcast series “Sparks in the Dark” and is co-author of Sparks in the Dark.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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